Fully implementing student choice regarding safety


Ameera Haque and Laine Cibulskis

This fall, Plainfield School District 202 schools fully implemented the ALICE policy, a lockdown procedure that stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. The program was first incorporated in high schools then middle and elementary schools.

Principal Dr. Joe O’Brien said, “We started going through district-wide training about two and a half years ago. It wasn’t fully implemented then. It was taking bits and pieces, collecting data, and trying to understand the actual ALICE program and procedures. And it was getting district personnel trained and informed.”

“The ALICE protocol is sweeping nationwide. It is basically, in short, an enhanced lockdown. … With the enhancement of the lockdown, … you’re able to make people aware of what’s going on,” Assistant Principal of Building and Operations Mike Romeli said.

Prior to the full implementation of ALICE, students and teachers were instructed to close the classroom door, turn off the lights, and hide in a corner away from the door and windows.

ALICE is designed to acknowledge that, in the event of a lockdown, safety is a priority and students and staff have options of how to react, rather than follow an autonomous procedure.

ALICE encourages students and staff to consider how to utilize classroom objects for self-defense.

East’s police officer Mike Boling said, “It’s been drilled into [students] to just hide in a corner and you have to wait. … It’s no longer just hiding. Maybe you guys have to take an active role in protecting yourselves.”

Social Worker Patrick Keclik said, “All the staff and everyone at East are here for the students and to make sure everyone is safe. There are multiple people every day keeping an eye on things, so there’s nothing to be concerned about.”

Including in the ALICE offers is evacuation.

“The one thing that I want [students] to know is that we care about their safety. That being said, it’s OK to trust your instincts and evacuate,” O’Brien said.

“We haven’t had that many people evacuate. And it’s OK; it really is,” Romeli said.

O’Brien said, “It’s still safe to lock down too. And that’s why the options are so important. Lockdown is safe. Evacuating is safe. The goal is to maintain the safety of all of our students.”

Safety is the main priority of the program.

“All the staff here are committed to making East as safe as possible. We’re committed to the students. If anyone is ever feeling unsafe or needs to talk about it, either come find a dean or one of the social workers or counselors to be able to talk about that,” Keclik said.